HOUSTON, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Sales to the United States of new Venezuelan crude blends made with imported oil nearly doubled in January to 176,000 barrels per day (bpd), but the rise was not enough to offset a decline in total oil shipments, according to Reuters trade data.
Venezuela’s state-run company PDVSA started buying Algerian light crude in October from Sonatrach to use it as diluent for its own extra heavy oil output.
China and the United States have been receiving cargoes of the new blends since then, but disagreements over terms of the Algerian oil sales have caused PDVSA to halt the purchases, according to industry sources.
PDVSA and its joint venture partners sent 736,000 bpd of crude to the United States last month, down 10.5 percent from December.
Traditional grades comprised most of the shipments, while new blends accounted for 24 percent and diluted crude oil (DCO) made with imported heavy naphtha represented seven percent.
PDVSA is expected to resume regular exports of DCO after limiting those shipments in the last quarter of 2014 amidst falling sales prices, sources added. Its refining unit in the United States, Citgo Petroleum, would absorb most of them.
In January, Citgo received from Venezuela 15 crude cargoes, U.S. refining company Valero Energy received 10 cargoes and other clients including Phillips 66, Chevron Corp , Total SA and Motiva Enterprises unloaded 17 cargoes coming from PDVSA and its joint ventures. (Reporting by Marianna Parraga; Editing by Terry Wade and Marguerita Choy)